Monday, June 8, 2020


Have you ever watched starlings and how they move dance in coordination through the air like schools of flying fish?

The patterns they make are called murmurations. It's basic physics, actually. They fly in a vortex or V shape called an upwash. The undulations they make arise from what's called a critical transition or a literal physical reaction from bumping into one another when they feel alarmed by something. The tipping point for that sharp turn is a phase transition that could be caused by a bird of prey flying into them, finding a place to roost or nest for the night, or other alarm sounded by the birds in the front to avoid a preying hawk or owl. 

The birds in the back have lower heart rates and conserve energy as they fly in this V formation. They feel a sense of safety in numbers. Even when those numbers are not all starlings. 

Birds in these flocks are often mixed. Blackbirds (red-winged blackbirds), starlings, common grackles, brown-headed cowbirds, and others. A "mixed flock", seeking perpetual safety.

by  Julie Cadwallader Staub

I am 52 years old, and have spent
truly the better part
of my life out-of-doors
but yesterday I heard a new sound above my head
a rustling, ruffling quietness in the spring air

and when I turned my face upward
I saw a flock of blackbirds
rounding a curve I didn't know was there
and the sound was simply all those wings
just feathers against air, against gravity
and such a beautiful winning
the whole flock taking a long, wide turn
as if of one body and one mind.

How do they do that?

Oh if we lived only in human society
with its cruelty and fear
its apathy and exhaustion
what a puny existence that would be

but instead we live and move and have our being
here, in this curving and soaring world
so that when, every now and then, mercy and tenderness triumph in our lives
and when, even more rarely, we manage to unite and move together
toward a common good,

and can think to ourselves:

ah yes, this is how it's meant to be.

"In times like ours, visions of “how it’s meant to be” can feel pretty thin—and sometimes we make them even thinner by succumbing to the cynical voice that says, “Yeah, right...” But I know of no movement for positive change that was not animated by such a vision.

Visions help keep hope alive and draw us forward. They also open our eyes to those precious moments when “how it’s meant to be” is how it is—right here, right now, with these people working together for something better. Once you’ve seen the ideal become real, you can no longer deny that it’s possible on this planet and in this life!
" Parker J Palmer

A mixed flock -  to heal, to move forward, to say the world: We will not stay the same. We will no longer tolerate cruelty nor live in fear. We will rise through the peaceful, graceful gathering of a mixed flock, while unveiling the trauma and bringing it out in the open sky. To see it ALL for all it's pain. 

Turning pain into the tender triumph of our time. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Against the Pursuit of Happiness. Caring for the Caregiver.

I'm against the pursuit of happiness, let's instead redefine joy

Respite for anyone, with caregivers no exception, begins with finding this joy- this inner resource to call on. Caregivers must remember themselves first.

Happiness is defined by many as the ultimate goal -- often relegated to specific situations, things or people who make us feel happy. Those feelings-- they can be fleeting.

What if we sought after something more sustainable? Something that allows us to feel the joy and the pain- both. What if we could learn to hold them with as much curiosity as we would a small butterfly in the palm knowing it will soar for a while more and eventually, it will fade? You and I will experience grief-- of so many varieties throughout our lives. This kind of grief through Alzheimer's and other Dementias show us small daily losses are in fact unique to each of us.

This disease doesn't reduce our resilience or create another problem to be solved. Instead, it's something caregivers live with every day.

This disease has no cure. It isn't something that can be fixed. There is heartbreak. Daily. And it isn't something to step over or try to remove. This grief is something that becomes a part of the caregiver just like love is in the fabric of our being.

As much as joy can be a refuge, if only for the present moment, sorrow invites himself to sit alongside and listens. That duality holds our hands and walks us through this vast life, and we comply.

One way to heal is to invite and re-ignite a commitment to care for ourSelves. 

We move. We breathe. And daily, we look for how to alleviate the pain. What if, we look into that pain and honor it. Honor the grief as individual as it is to each of us. And, by seeing it all for what it is-- we take away the shame, the hardness and acknowledge that we can be with it.

Dearest caregiver, join me in setting aside your long to do list- just for today. Allow yourself to be cared for with grace. Pause (wherever you are right now). Relish in the stillness. Dare to engage with deep curiosity and listening. Take time to walk. Take time to sit with your tea. May today serve to be a future reminder of how beloved you are. How your self care today and every day sparks health and vitality for your collective loved ones at home.

We hope you will seek support and savor time with like-minded community who understand your journey.

Out of a desire to give back to my dad, a caregiver to his beloved wife, Marcee who passed of Early On-set a few years ago, I began this retreat 5 years ago. With a dream of being able to take care of those who selflessly care for their loved ones, I am accompanied by more than 30 volunteers.We see how difficult this is. We see you. And you are Love.

Join me in sharing this resource who are in need of it. Share the link. Tell a friend. Make a donation.* FREE for caregivers of Alzheimer's and other Dementias in Houston, Calgary and soon, Santa Fe. In loving memory of my Marcee and in gratitude to my dad, her loving caregiver. Taking care of those who caregive. #caregivers

*Your donation will go toward administration costs (registration, website, flier, etc.), food (we feed over 100 people - 2 meals during the retreat), and miscellaneous costs (eye pillows for the caregivers, cleaning fees for our donated retreat center, etc.) We are not yet a non-profit but working toward it!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Yoga Research: How to find it, decipher it, and use it.

Field notes on Yoga Research. 

This will be a working document which I will continue to add to and comment on and grow... but my initial notes and sharing as I get a lot of questions about: aging, special populations, working with folks with x, y, z...and what's the best tool, technique, etc. 

We are all individual. Start with understanding not just anatomy but biomechanics. (Jules Mitchell is a great resource for that.) 

Then, work with understanding the brain and our body's systems. 

This is only the beginning. Look at where the information is coming from. Experience, research... and then, of course, there is our own bias and anecdotal accounts... begin first with study, practice and whatever you do and whatever capacity (or movement practice or modality) you work with individuals for healing or preventing injuries, know that they are an individual. It's a team effort (holistic approach). One method may work for one person, while it's not the best for another person... there are some basics (methodologies, practices), but we can only work from where we are within our own scope of practice. 

Alright... now to understand all the info that is floating out there... articles should not be your go to. Question everything. And... have fun. Don't be afraid to dive into research - the more you know, the less you'll realize you know. :)

ResearchIf you research yoga research or read yoga research or are interested or quote yoga research... let's learn more about it, eh?

Podcasts and Blogs

There are dozens, hundreds, and I'm sure soon to be thousands on yoga research. A few to check out are:Mindful Strength Podcast.

Ariana Rabinovitch has a wealth of info on her site (paid). Article / research reviews + a (free) podcast where she talks with experts/ experienced in yoga research. A sample article on headstands.

What am I looking for in research?

What is a metta analysis vs. systematic review vs. individual study?
This meta analysis shows the studies done on neuromuscular diseases and yoga are inconclusive. Therefore we need more research with better and more clear standards of measurement (IMHO).

What kinds of standards of measurement, you ask? Well, someone's come up with some psychometric properties for a yoga questionnaire that hopes to standardize and bring more cohesiveness to studies so we are not comparing apples to oranges.

Where do I find valid research?

IAYTIAYT journal of research/resources (paid with a few articles free).A sample review of study done on feasibility of restorative yoga vs. rigorous yoga with cancer patients. It shows that rigorous yoga is only slightly more effective-- however, the sample size, and many other factors such as, what is rigorous yoga? "Future studies for sedentary patients should focus on reducing time commitment and travel requirements to improve recruitment, and on using restorative yoga as a more feasible intervention for this population." ... so more research, please. 

Learn how to use PubMed/NLH (highly recommend).
A quick search on "clinical queries" (which brings up systematic reviews) for yoga (only pulls up the abstracts).
So then, how do you I get the full articles?

This will be a living document. I'll continue to add and grow the resources. Feel free to comment below, join the mailing list, or check out Restorative or Gentle Yoga Immersions

Let's keep stretching (pun intended) our biases and growing our knowledge base.

Time to move outside.

With grace,


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Yoga retreats- pro tips for making it happen!

What's stopping you from traveling? Taking that respite that you've always dreamed of?

Have you always wanted to go to a yoga retreat and feel it's unattainable? First, anything is possible. With time and creativity-- and remember to ask for what you want-- from everyone. The universe does conspire to make the impossible -- possible.

Here's some of my Pro Retreat Tips:
1. Start saving now. plan your trip at least 2 months out- you will find flights don't start to escalate until about a month out.... so even last minute trips are not impossible. Sites like KAYAK or even Google will help you sift through prices. will give you notices when flights go up or down for your desired destination. Did you know the cheapest day to BUY your ticket is a Tuesday? And cheapest days to fly are Tues, Wed or Sun.
2. Need the cash to travel? Start saving and planning now. Sites like Acorns help you squirrel away pennies of every dollar you spend. (You don't even notice). Offer to do extra jobs within your community circle. What are you good at? Editing, cooking, marketing, social media, photography?... Post what your good at- and tell people what you can do- ask for work and be willing to take a donated amount… you might be surprised by letting them give what they think is fair, they’ll actually offer you more than you hoped for.
3. Shop your adventure... the cheapest yoga retreat or the most expensive isn't always the best experience. Go with the teacher who’s style resonates with you most. Do you want someone approachable? Strong or sustainable practice? Meditation or Vinyasa? A relaxing retreat or adventure travel? Retreat leader experience does matter. Leaders who've put in the time, effort and energy to really plan out an exquisite offering and have lead many retreats before- is worth the extra cost.
4. Location. location. location. Go with the location that resonates with you most-- but be willing to consider a place that wasn't even on your radar. There are some amazing gems out there in locations you would have never imagined (Bhutan and Sri Lanka, among them!)
5. Grab a Friend! Traveling solo has it's benefits-but sharing a room, uber and meals cuts your costs in half. plus, it's more fun!

Remember too, you don't have to go far-- see what's happening close to you- within your city- so many beautiful day retreats and offerings.

Enjoy the day!